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Detroit, MI 48201

Chris Blauvelt

Crowd funding isn't just something that agrees with Chris Blauvelt. It's something he is building a career on.

The resident of Detroit's Midtown neighborhood has launched two crowd funding startups since this spring. The first, Patronicity, helps cut through the white noise of major crowd funding sites by providing a platform for Metro Detroit projects to reach out directly to local patrons. The second, LaunchGood, does the same thing for the Muslim community in North America.

"I like crowd funding," Blauvelt says. "It aligns really well with my personality as a networker and influencer."

Blauvelt came to Detroit from Ann Arbor to take part in a film project three years ago. When the state cut the film incentives the movie had to crowd fund to finish production. Not long after that Blauvelt joined one of the early classes in Bizdom. He went in with the idea of starting a sponsor-based crowd funding platform and left with the idea of creating a community-based crowd funding platform that eventually became Patronicity.

Blauvelt has since leveraged mentorship services at the Green Garage in Midtown and the Great Lakes Entrepreneurs Quest. He is also utilizing a social enterprise fellowship with Michigan Corps to launch his crowd funding sites.

One of the things that frustrated Blauvelt about crowd funding as it became more mainstream is that it became more difficult to find local projects in a pool filled with thousands from across the continent. Patronicity cuts through that by only featuring local projects to an audience of primarily Metro Detroiters. That way people can give to causes in areas they want to help but might not be familiar with.

"To me Patronicity affords people the opportunity to get involved," Blauvelt says. "It supports progress in areas they might not feel connected to."

Patronicity also serves to connect to different communities across the region. For instance, the social media circle of a working-class kid from the inner city might not have the same crowd funding potential as the young person's white-collar counterpart in the suburbs. But both young people can leverage each other’s social circles if they can easily be found on a crowd funding platform that focuses on local projects.

"I want Patronicity to create this vibrant culture of people walking around supporting stuff," Blauvelt says. "The reason we call it Patronicity is that I want to create a culture of micropatronage. So when I give $10, it does make a difference."

Blauvelt wants to upgrade Patronicity's web presence with a more comprehensive web design. He would also like to gamify some of its functions so users can win virtual badges for hitting certain giving levels. He has accomplished a few of those things with LaunchGood, which debuted earlier this month.

LaunchGood focuses on highlighting projects in the Muslim community. For instance, one of its first projects supports creating a workout video for Muslim women who want to dress modestly. So far LaunchGood has shown promising results, raising $5,000 between four projects in its first week.

"The most generous people on Patronicity are the Muslims," says Blauvelt, a Muslim convert. "That's not something people would assume. I feel strongly that we need a platform where we can share our stories."

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